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Clipping College Students with DVD Software
by Shepard Gorman

 No, it isn’t the time for haircuts or wool harvesting but it is almost always the right season for using the proper multimedia material to enhance a presentation. Some new features on a classic program makes this easy and even fun.  InterVideo WinDVD 8 is the newest version of what is now staple media playback software. This version has added a number of features that are great for classroom use.

 First, is its ability to capture 30 second video clips of any media played. That’s saying a lot because WinDVD can use any video format. These including the new HD standards, the H.264 format used on portable media devices like the iPod. It may be the only commercial program that includes the latest iteration of DivX,  a highly compressed format in use around the world..  When viewing a movie on this program,  clicking the film icon (see below) will pop-up a panel with a familiar VCR display. A  Sidebar of  thumbnail displays of the captured clips will appear.  If you press the Record button ( Go for it Bucko!),  the next 30 seconds of the film will be transferred to a relatively low resolution (VCR quality) image that can be easily pasted into PowerPoint presentations.  The fact that these clips have no sound is disappointing for those of us who would like to have a choice of whether to anesthetize our students with our verbal eloquence ourselves or have others do it for us.


 Second, the many audio and video adjustments that program provides enhance its usability for presentations. If you want to create a particular mood for a clip or a long presentation, two clicks set up a host of video effects including B & W, sepia, and even a fuzzy, silent movie mode.  The audio adjustments optimize any output from headphones to 7.1 surround sound systems.  It even makes the tinny speakers in Smartboards  and laptops sound better. If the spirit moves you, the included digital sound processor you can make your commercial or your home-brewed DVD sound like the a Broadway theatre or the Chicago Symphony hall

 Third, the Platinum version of this program ($60 list price, about $40 street price) has a very worthwhile server feature that can let you stream videos from one PC to another across a network.

This is useful for those of us who don’t want to carry multi-media materials with us but prefer to have them sit on a local server ( really any PC ) like an old jukebox and play them back from a remote location,

 Fourth, it has a “hurry up” mode. Originally this was designed for the business traveler who had a flight to catch or didn’t want to miss the end of the movie, the playback goes up  to twice the original speed with a feature that keeps the audio intelligible. While the sound track is not really too understandable past 1.5 X speed, it is handy to be able to squeeze in that perfect clip before the end of a lecture. For those challenged by base-60 mathematics, it even has an ending time feature, changing the speed to meet the end time you select.

 Finally, we all know that occasionally, but most assuredly infrequently, we may want to interject our own unique, certainly brilliant but modest thoughts on the spur of the moment while media plays. Enter the “Boss” key. Designed to keeping cubicle workers employed, hitting F12 will instantly pause the presentation and blank the screen. Hitting it again resumes Play.  Dilbert’s gain is ours too. We can interrupt easily interrupt the less erudite work of the original filmmakers and continue to do so until the din of negative comments from students becomes quite voluble or until we have gathered enough slightly used fruits and vegetables.  ( My dry cleaner really sees this as a source of new revenue.)


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